University’s Panuska College of Professional Studies Students Pause to Reflect on Those ‘Who Upon Death Became Teachers’

Nov 22, 2016

Students joined with faculty and staff of The University of Scranton’s Panuska College of Professional Studies for a service to honor and remember the individuals who donated their bodies to further the education of students in the health professions.

During the summer and fall semesters at Scranton, 264 undergraduate and graduate students studying in the fields of nurse anesthesia, physical therapy, occupational therapy and exercise science and sport learned firsthand the intricacies of the human body in the gross anatomy lab thanks to the gifts these individuals bestowed.

For the students, each benefactor’s death was “transformed into a celebration of knowledge,” said Alissa Zajac in her reflection, which she shared at a Celebration of Remembrance Ceremony held on campus last week. A Doctor of Physical Therapy student at Scranton, Zajac’s reflection, and those of other students read at the ceremony, expressed gratitude for the extraordinary gift they received from those whose names they will never know.

“Upon death, they became teachers to our students,” said Cheryil Demkosky, director of the Panuska College of Professional Studies laboratories, who organized the service.

The service included reflections shared by occupational therapy undergraduate students: Beth Aberant of Moorestown, New Jersey; Kiera Carrigan of Rockville Centre, New York; Marcella Guilfoyle of Rockville Centre, New York; and Meghan Murtha of Duryea; and Doctor of Physical Therapy students Krista Ziegler of Old Bethpage, New York, and Zajac of Oxford, New Jersey. Physical therapy professor Jennifer Schwartz, DPT, and Debra Pellegrino, Ed.D., dean of the Panuska College of Professional studies, also spoke at the ceremony.

Rick Malloy, S.J., said the ceremony was a chance to honor those who gave their bodies “to be used by students to become healers for others,” a life-changing honor revered by the students, and recognized in a poem written in 2000 by Amy Marie Millikan that was read at the ceremony:

My feet, with the knowledge of yours, will walk into the future carrying you with me.

My hands, as they reach out to comfort and heal, will do so never forgetting the delicacy of yours.

My eyes, as they sweep across the landscapes of my future, will find in it reflections of the world I saw as yours.

Excerpt of a poem by Amy Marie Millikan, published April 2000, New England Journal of Medicine.

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